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6 key tips to writing a winning LMS RFP

• 4 min read

How to write an RFPHello readers! I trust by now you have decided on implementing an LMS within your organisation and you have found our earlier blog posts on “ 5 key tips to evaluate LMS vendor”  and “6 Key decision parameters while selecting an LMS” useful in making your decision (at least we hope!).

As an extension to my earlier blog posts, I thought it would be a good idea to help you with some tips on how to write a winning LMS RFP (Request For Proposal). I am sure these tips will help you to get the right vendor shortlisted for your LMS implementations. I do understand that just writing an LMS RFP is a very tedious task as LMSs can possess many layers of complexity, especially when they are developed to integrate with and meet the needs of your organization’s information technology backbone. I hope the below tips will help answer your questions:

  1. Do your research
    Before you release your RFP, it is of the utmost important you do your homework well. This not only reduces the time for the overall process but also gives clarity as to all the functionalities required and which points you must cover in a RFP / RFI. For this process you can involve all the relevant and important stakeholders who are going to use the system and try to understand what their expectations are. Try to accommodate as many points as possible in your RFP / RFI.  This exercise will also help you to draft a business case by keeping overall organisational long-term and short-term goals in mind. During this process, I would recommend contacting a few companies in a similar domain as your own that have already implemented LMS’ and understood what challenges they faced or are facing post-implementation. This will help to eliminate a few of the pain points based on the experience of others.
  2. Define your business case
    Once you are done with step-1, start writing your business case. In your RFP / RFI, it is always advisable to write a short summary of your business case at the beginning. This will give a clear vision to the vendor whilst responding to the RFP / RFI and they will ensure that they propose some creative solutions based on your business case – which they may have already implemented with some of their other clients. A good business case will always prompt a vendor to give a more considered response. Also this helps to show the seriousness and genuineness of your LMS requirement. Do not forget to mention the objective of your LMS implementation clearly in your business case.
  3. Define a unique response format
    For an LMS RFP you will find there are many standardised templates available on the internet, however, they may not necessarily suit your requirements. It is always advisable to create your own unique response format whether it be in Word, Excel, PPT, etc., – anything will do. While defining your RFP format try to create sections based on the requirements. For example you can have sections which define your organisation, business case, key objectives, etc. Another section could be about your requirements, key challenges you wish to be addressed by the system, etc. Next section could be explaining the technology stack, any specific technology preferences like Cloud LMS, or behind firewall implementations, etc. Also there could be a section for the vendor to provide their own information, for example about the organisation, organisation structure, clients they are serving, other services they offer, etc. Give some weightage to each section based on their importance in the overall (final) RFP. Try to define the requirements in question and answer format. This allows the vendor to respond in an appropriate manner and also to ask the relevant questions if need be.
  4. Define important milestones and timelines
    Based on my experience, I have seen many RFPs / RFIs which do not mention clear milestones and timelines. This does not give the vendor a clear picture of the overall timeframe of the project and often leads to wrong expectations from both the sides. It is always good to write the milestones and dates associated with them. For example define the release date of the RFP, define last date to submit queries by the vendor, define last date of submission, define timelines for finalisation of decision, etc. This is important not only from the vendor’s perspective, but you also have to have clarity on the overall time this process is going to take and by when you ought to actually have vendors finalised.
  5. Define Key Selection Criteria
    Many times while creating a RFP / RFI, this section is missing. I always admire companies that define their key selection criteria. When we draft a business case, are we sure of what our key selection criteria are going to be?  Often it could be either size of the company, client base, technology preference, pricing, geography, support structure, etc. There is no harm in stating your key selection criteria. This will also allow the vendor to consider whether it’s a good fit. Do share as much information as possible in your RFP / RFI and let the  vendor decide whether to participate or not. This process will automatically eliminate those which do not fit into your selection criteria and you will end up saving a precious amount of time (which might otherwise have been spent evaluating the wrong  vendors).
  6. Allow for a walk-through of your RFP, and also Q&A, with vendors
    Though this point may not be part of RFP writing, but I would suggest mentioning in the RFP document that you are open for a walk-through session of your RFP with vendors. You can decide to have this as a one-to-many or one-to-one session. You can keep it short and sweet, but make sure you do it. This will ensure you’ve covered everything for your end and you can rest assured that vendors understand your RFP / RFI well before responding.

With these tips, I am sure you are now ready to write your RFP / RFI. At Docebo, we respond to LMS RFPs / RFIs regularly, and we make sure that we consult with the client about our solutions prior to responding to RFPs / RFIs. In case you have any questions on how to write Learning Management RFPs / RFIs, we would be happy to assist you.



Amol Shinde